Blueberry lovers often enjoy their favorite fruit concealed in a baked batter with the result somewhat like a cupcake. Instead of the iced flat top of a cupcake the blueberry muffin puffs up and over the side. This forms the traditional “muffin top” characteristic of muffins in general. Blueberry muffins remain a favorite of many with assorted ultra-nutritious to high-calorie varieties available. From the basic blueberry muffin to gourmet blueberry muffins there seems to be endless options for anything from breakfast or a quick snack to a rich gooey after-dinner dessert.
It is hard to say how the blueberry muffin began, but one theory is by recipe adaptation. Europeans in their native countries used berries called bilberries in muffins, cakes and other baked goods. Upon arrival in North America however, they learned that bilberries were not available. Instead they found wild blueberries growing and plentiful. Native Americans already used these berries in their cooking. Some have concluded that European immigrants started using the wild blueberries in place of bilberries in their baking, including muffins.
Blueberries offer health benefits. They contain vitamin C, high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber. In addition they have very little fat. Disadvantages may outweigh advantages when the blueberries are baked into batter that is made of high-fat ingredients, such as butter, milk and sugar. Instead boost the benefits of a blueberry muffin by choosing a variety that includes healthier ingredients. Suggestions include skim milk, nuts, bran or wheat flour.
A group of children helped bring about a Minnesota law giving the blueberry muffin recognition. As part of a study of state foods in a social studies class, third-graders from Carlton, Minnesota’s South Terrace Elementary School suggested that the blueberry muffin should be the official state muffin. Acting on the initiative, the Minnesota legislature in 1988 so designated the blueberry muffin.
When baking homemade blueberry muffins, different blueberries work best with different batters. Fresh and frozen blueberries become crushed easily in heavy thick batters. For those, dried blueberries are the best choice. Lighter batters, for example, batters for mini-blueberry muffins, do well with fresh or frozen berries.
When using frozen berries, add them to the batter while they are still frozen. Blueberries contain a pigment that causes them to bleed out their color. Therefore, add them last into the batter. A good rule of thumb for the blueberry-to-batter ratio is 1 lb. of blueberries for every 2 lbs of batter.
As scientists and bakers discover more about the benefits of blueberries, the demand for blueberry muffins continues to rise. Blueberry muffins are found in grocery stores and convenience shops nationwide. Consumers buy whole individually wrapped muffins and muffin mixes. In addition, blueberry muffins come in sizes from mini to jumbo. Be aware, however, that just because the packaging says blueberry does not mean they contain real blueberries. To be sure your product contains real blueberries, look for the blueberry real seal, which states in writing that the product is made with real blueberries.
References and ResourcesThe Food Timeline: FAQ Muffins to Yogurt: About Blueberry Muffins
US Blueberry Council:Frequently Asked Questions
Minnesota North Star: State Symbols
U.S. Blueberry Council: Nutrition
Cooks.com:Healthy Blueberry Walnut Bran Muffins
ResourcesTastespotting: Blueberry Muffins
Smithsonian. com: Animal Old Folks
Cooksrecipes.com:Blueberry Muffin Recipes